In 1992, Bill Clinton received 43 percent of the national vote, but he received 83 percent of the vote from film and television writers, directors, and producers. Is Hollywood as liberal as these data suggest? If so, why? Does Hollywood have a cohesive liberal agenda that affects the films and television programs we watch?
Peter Robinson: Today on Uncommon Knowledge, just how liberal is Hollywood? The politics of Tinseltown with Rob Long and Harry Shearer.
Announcer: Funding for this program is provided by the John M. Olin Foundation and the Starr Foundation.
Peter Robinson: Welcome to Uncommon Knowledge. I'm Peter Robinson: Robinson. Our show today, The Politics of Hollywood. We've all seen it again and again, the charity fund raising events, the campaign appearances, the celebrity dinners, Hollywood moguls and stars turning out to support the latest liberal candidate or cause. Today, we go behind the scenes to take a close-up look at the politics of Hollywood. Does Hollywood really have a coherent liberal agenda that affects the television programs and movies that all of us see? And if it doesn't, where are all of Hollywood's conservatives hiding?
With us today two guests, both from Hollywood. Rob Long is a television writer and producer whose work also appears in National Review, the conservative political magazine. Harry Shearer is a writer, producer, actor and comedian whose political satire appears on his own radio program, Le Show. Even if you don't recognize Harry's face immediately, you can be sure you've heard his voice. On the Simpson's he provides the voices of many characters including Mr. Burns, and my favorite, Smithers.
Title: That's Entertainment
Peter Robinson: A poll by the Center for the Study of Social and Political Change in 1992, eighty-three percent of film and television writers, directors and producers voted for Bill Clinton. Eighty-three percent. The vote that Clinton received in the country at large, forty-three percent. Harry, you would agree would you not, that Hollywood is woefully out of step with America?
Harry Shearer: Yeah but I think that poll is so off the mark in terms of the way Hollywood is out of step with America that it doesn't even deserve discussion.
Peter Robinson: Uh, well I might like to discuss it a little bit, but we'll come back to your point.
Harry Shearer: No I was hoping you--you--you'd rise to that take.
Peter Robinson: Hollywood is woefully out of step.
Rob Long: Uh, yeah, but I sort of agree with Harry a bit, I mean that--it is out of step, but it's out of step in so many other ways, I wouldn't--I mean politically I would put it down right after the food that we eat and the cars that we drive, and the--the things that we like to do. I mean, Hollywood is its own weird colony, so I me--and also an irrelevant colony, so…
Peter Robinson: Irrelevant?
Rob Long: I would--I would--I would--I would challenge that eighty-three percent of Hollywood actually voted.
Harry Shearer: And what's so good about being in touch with the country?
Peter Robinson: We could debate that on another show, I'd be very happy to fly you guys from Los Angeles…
Harry Shearer: No, that's your basic premise here so…
Peter Robinson: My--my--my--but what I would like is an education from the two of you Hollywood insiders as to why Hollywood is politically out of step. Now begin with this one, The Economist magazine, I'm going to throw a quotation at you, "Hollywood Republicans were already a beleaguered minority when Mr. Reagan came to power twenty years ago, but now they can probably be numbered on the fingers of one hand," Rob Long here is index finger. Those who harbor…
Harry Shearer: Tom Selleck.
Peter Robinson: No. No, no, no, you want to know? Writing my book on the Republican Party, I called Selleck's publicist, I said Mr. Selleck is a well known Republican, I'd like to talk--publicist got very huffy with me and said he is not a Republican, he's an Independent. Put him in the next edition of Profiles in Courage. Hold on, we want to finish the quotation, "those who harbor secret doubts about liberal orthodoxies have little choice but to hide their true feelings in Tinseltown." Now is that your experience, do you have to hide?
Rob Long: No, you absolutely do not have to hide. I think that's a--that's sort of paranoid thinking from way, way back. Maybe in the past you had to, I never felt that I had to. I've been working here for twelve--there for twelve years.
Peter Robinson: Okay, but can I just ask one more question about your personal experience. You became successful immediately. You moved to Hollywood eighteen months later…
Rob Long: Well, you talk to my dad about that, but okay, go ahead.
Peter Robinson: …well, but you were producing, in Hollywood terms, at least, you became successful right away. Supposed you had to--had to struggle for five years or six years, would you have had the feeling, do you think, that you ought to keep your Republican conservative views to yourself?
Rob Long: I suppose, but I think that I could have come up with a whole consolation of reasons when I should of--of other things I should've done. You know, I probably should have gone to a trainer four times a week, or bought a fancier car but it's a very shallow place. So it's really not a surprise that its politics are also equally shallow.
Harry Shearer: But I, you know--here--here's the thing that I--in thinking about this--this subject, what--what startles me is the attention to the voting patterns of these people and not to what they actually put on the screen. Now Rob Reiner is an exception. Rob Reiner puts his--his liberal heart not only in his sleeve but on the screen. But what Hollywood does, the--the--the Hollywood world view, it seems to me, if you look at the--the vast majority of--of pictures that Hollywood likes to crank out, are intensely conservative in their world view. It's an individual, a sole individual who embodies, a--a--an eternal sense of right and wrong that's not relativistic in any sense, a raid against a very threatening world, and, you know, he'll cooperate to a limited degree, but in the full knowledge that most of those he'll cooperate with will either will betray him or be killed, and he'll be standing alone as the lone hero at the end of the film.
[Talking at the same time]
Rob Long: Great, so I want that.
Harry Shearer: You got it.
Rob Long: Are you pitching that?
Harry Shearer: Yeah, I'm pitching it. As opposed to, you know, liberal--liberal pieties of cooperation, consensus, compromise…
Peter Robinson: It may take a village to make a child--to raise a child, but that's a bad movie.
Harry Shearer: That's right. They're relatively undramatic principles to begin with.
Peter Robinson: The standard pattern for a Hollywood movie is that it's built on the notion of a hero, and that is inherently the individual set in a difficult situation forced back on his own resources trying to achieve something great, and that is inherently conservative. And I think I'd tend to agree with that, would you?
Rob Long: I'd definitely agree with that, but I also think that people, especially conservatives tend to get really uptight about Hollywood's message--political message. Which is, I mean, the argument that you made was that forty-three percent of American's voted for Clinton but eighty-three percent of Hollywood voted for…
Peter Robinson: Yeah, right.
Rob Long: …which sort of proves the point that Hollywood really doesn't sway America's voting pattern. If anything I think…
Peter Robinson: Hollywood may be liberal now, but it hasn't always been so. What has changed?
Title: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Peter Robinson: If you'd go back a generation or two, here are some names that come to my mind. Ronald Reagan obviously conservative. Jimmy Stuart lovely guy, supported Ronald Regan, again conservative. John Wayne, you may not like his acting, you may think that he should have gone to serve in the Second World War, there's an argument that he dodged service--nevertheless…
Harry Shearer: Well you might think Ronald Reagan should have served in the Second World War…
Peter Robinson: Oh he did. No, no, no, he did. He did. He did. No, no, he did. He was in, he served in the Army. He didn't serve in combat because his eyes were bad, but he did serve.
Harry Shearer: Right, but he--he did recall a liberation that he attended that didn't happen, but…
Peter Robinson: No, no, no.
Harry Shearer: Wendell Corey, name Wendell Corey while you're at it.
Peter Robinson: I don't know who Wendell Corey is.
Harry Shearer: You don't remember Wendell Corey?
Peter Robinson: No.
Harry Shearer: Oh, well he was conservative.
Peter Robinson: Wait--wait. So is John Wayne, Charleton Heston, Carey Grant spoke--I can recall seeing Carey Grant speak at a Republican convention.
Harry Shearer: Really?
Peter Robinson: You could name--yeah--you could name ten or a dozen major figures from a couple of generations ago who were right out there with being Republican and conservative, and I can't get very far past Rob Long, Arnold Schwarzenegger…
Harry Shearer: Tom Selleck.
Peter Robinson: …the Independent. So what has changed? What has changed?
Rob Long: Well the good news though, as I had said once is that, you know, one out of every three Hollywood Republicans goes on to become President of the United States. The other side of it is that, I think, that in the '60's, somehow, things changed, so that people's, in Hollywood too, and the world, and the country, that people tended to think of their membership to the Democratic Party, as not a, I agree--I support this general set of--sense of--set of, principles, but these are--these are my credentials as a good person, that--and I think--I think you can get away with a lot of childish, idiotic beliefs if they also, are sort of officially sanctioned. Not--not I think by Hollywood, but I think by a, I mean, I hate to sound like Nixon here, but by--by the east coast sort of liberal intelligencia…
Peter Robinson: You could probably sound like Nixon.
[Talking at the same time]
Harry Shearer: The--the--the--the numbers that you alluded to a moment ago have nothing to do with the celebrity's that you were talking about. And why, you know, the--the money that Clinton raised was not from actors. The money Clinton raised was from David Geffen, and Michael Eisner, and the--the interesting question is, why are the heads of these particular kinds of corporations Democrats when the heads of a lot of other kinds of corporations tend to be Republicans. And, because Michael Eisner has nothing in common…
Peter Robinson: I'll tell you why--I'll tell you why. Go ahead.
Harry Shearer: And why are they supporting the Democratic Party when the Democratic Party is--is out in front in trying to--in trying to dismantle their monopoly…
[Talking at the same time]
Peter Robinson: I put to you--I put to you an argument. They are doing so to buy themselves protection. As follows, Hollywood continually offends the middle of the country with sex and violence and with portrayals of…
Rob Long: (?) Well, what--what--wait, what part of the country is paying--is buying all those tickets then--not to--not to take the Hollywood argument, but…
Peter Robinson: Well, it's complicated. We--we--as Saint Paul said that which I do--would do, I do not, and that which I would not, I do. That is to say you tempt us…
(?): …I watch on the cable.
Peter Robinson: Yes, exactly, and in then revised edition of the--but the point is that you then have somebody like Joe Liebermen making common ground with Bill Bennet, and calling for--first of all, he backs the…
Harry Shearer: (inaudible) the Baptists and the (?).
Peter Robinson: …Senator, you know, that--it takes me a moment to recover from that one.
Harry Shearer: Well that's good.
Peter Robinson: From back legislation to put the v-chip on television, he and Bill Bennet were calling for formal investigations into whether Hollywood was selling violent material, making a concerted effort to sell violent material to minors. And then he becomes the Vice Presidential nominee and suddenly he backs off. What they're doing is--is buying protection. That's why they're--they're funding the Democratic Party so heavily. What do you--what do buy--you go for that?
Harry Shearer: No because…
Rob Long: I don't either.
Harry Shearer: …because the Democratic Party was a co-conspirator in the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which was the--beside from the Digital Millennium con--Communications Act, also passed under Clinton, the single worse piece of legislation of the '90's. Which gave, all of the telecommunications companies, including those connected with Hollywood an unbelievable free reign. The DMCA gives all copyright holders a right to trample all over First Amendment Rights, Fair Use Rights, I mean, it gave these people incredible…
Peter Robinson: Harry, could I point something out here?
Harry Shearer: Yeah.
Peter Robinson: You come in here saying oh these guys, they--Hollywood doesn't take its politics seriously. You're giving me an extremely thoughtful and detailed answer to a political question. This is just astounding. However you're also doing so from the liberal anti-corporate point of view. I mean, you…
Harry Shearer: No I'm not. I'm just telling you what--what they bought. I'm telling you that they bought…
Rob Long: He--he's an independent.
Peter Robinson: Oh is that the case? You and Tom Selleck.
Harry Shearer: …they bought--they bought the right to tell copy--to tell people who buy copyrighted works, fair use doesn't mean what it used to mean, and in the digital age, you'll now have to enter a pay per use world for books, records and movies. That's what Hollywood is paying for, and that's the big picture. And to--to focus on, you know, patients' Bill of Rights is not what Michael Eisner and David Geffen care about, I don't think.
Peter Robinson: It's--it's business. They have specific interests that they want…
Harry Shearer: No, no…
Peter Robinson: …there's a certain sense in which we ought not to be any more worried about them then about trial lawyers or soy bean farmers.
Harry Shearer: I think…
Peter Robinson: It's just an interest, they have business interest and they want representation in front of Washington and they'll pay for it.
Rob Long: And they'll pay for it, and I think you--I think you're also, I mean, there are two things being confused. The business interests which are, can we own as many stations as we want?
Peter Robinson: Right.
Harry Shearer: Will you not pass laws that say we can't show certain things, and will you not pass a family, whatever it is, the--the family hour laws, anything like that. And then the separate, kind of cultural question, which is really that Hollywood is a slightly more extreme childish version of other liberal enclaves in the country. I mean…
Peter Robinson: Alright, our guests agree that Hollywood is liberal, but why?
Title: Nothing More Than Feelings
Peter Robinson: Let me try two explanations all right? One is an explanation that I think has--it--it's somewhat persuasive to me anyway--Mike Medved's explanation. Hollywood is liberal because it is a town that values emotion over thought. Whether it's the actor who…
Harry Shearer: Let me--let me see what I feel about that. Yeah go on.
Peter Robinson: …it's the actor who has to weep on command in take after take after take all day, it's the writer who's trying not to explain a chain of thinking, but to illicit a certain emotional response, and when you have a set of issue--for example, the--let's take welfare--the liberal position on welfare is as follows: give the poor more money. Immediate emotional response. It feels good. The conservative or Republican position on welfare is: wait a minute to give the money, you have to rai tax--raise taxes, that may dampen the economy. Are you creating more people then you're helping, the poor people who receive the money, will it help them or will it make them--it's a very involved thought process and in a town that values emotion over thought, the conservative position, which relies on analysis and thought doesn't stand a chance. You buy it?
Harry Shearer: No.
Peter Robinson: Oh.
Harry Shearer: For two reasons.
Peter Robinson: Okay.
Harry Shearer: For one its--it's a--assumes that liberals don't think, which I think is--is a…
Peter Robinson: But they emote beautifully.
Harry Shearer: …a nice--a nice--well, but they may think too. They may just think differently from--from conservatives. It also doesn't respond to your question about why over the years, has Hollywood changed, because conservatives--th--that argument would apply as well in the '40's as it would apply now. So what happened? It doesn't answer that.
Peter Robinson: It doesn't answer that, I agree. Rob, do you buy any of it?
Rob Long: I don't buy it. But I think I don't buy for other reasons. Not your reasons, new reasons, better reasons.
Harry Shearer: More conservative reasons.
Rob Long: More conservative reasons. I don't buy it because I think that--from my experience, I mean, I have two experiences with incredibly far left areas--institutions. One is college, and the other is Hollywood.
Peter Robinson: Yale University and Hollywood.
Rob Long: I mean, nuts. Hollywood is a much more open diverse, thoughtful, more politically free place than an American University, that I--any American University I can name. Maybe--maybe Bob Jones, but--but--it--it--I suspect the reason Hollywood is liberal is hys--a whole bunch of reasons. One is because the money comes really fast, and it comes traditionally to people who probably haven't had it. And so they feel a little guilty about it. And the second thing is because you--you--you will never be--no one will ever challenge you in this culture, which is sort of defined by what the New York Times and the Washington Post says is, you know, makes a good person. You will never be challenged at a cocktail party for having a crackpot view that's liberal. You will never be challenged for saying, you know I think that we ought to spend more money on the public school system. We ought to raise taxes for that. No one will ever challenge you for that, but if you say the opposite they will. And so it's much easier, much simpler. I mean, the people in Hollywood take the easy way if they can. People all over take the easy way. It's much easier to have a set of political beliefs that are not sensible…
Harry Shearer: Michael--Michael Medved, also probably has not been to, I--I go to Rob's events, I also go to liberal events. I go to a lot of political events of every stripe. And people at the liberal events, at the liberal meetings, are absolutely as interested in the details of legislation in the implications of legisla…
Peter Robinson: You mentioned Rob Reiner, he's…
[Talking at the same time]
Harry Shearer: Well, I'm not talking about Rob Reiner, I'm talking about more thoughtful people then Rob. Rob is I think a--I think a…
Peter Robinson: I thought he was thoughtful.
Harry Shearer: …I think Rob is probably is a--is a probably the--the living example of the emotionalism that Medved implanted. But the meetings that I've been to, or the discussions that I've been to that are on the liberal side are absolutely as thoughtful and analytical as the conservatives like to believe theirs are. So I don't think that--that's--I think that--that sort of is a flattering view for conservatives to believe about Hollywood, but I don't think it--what's your second explanation, you had a second?
Peter Robinson: Well no, the second explanation was the one I actually derived one day from Rob Long, who said that it's money, the money comes fast, it gets to--goes to people who haven't had it, and so they acquire the syndrome of people who inherit a great deal of wealth. They--they--they feel it came to them capriciously, and they feel a certain amount of guilt. So they do things like give large sums of money away to various charities and support the Democratic Party as a--in a certain sense, as a way of absolving themselves.
Rob Long: And there's--and there's absolutely no down side to that, so why shouldn't they…
Peter Robinson: And that would help to explain, this is Rob's explanation, but that would help to explain the change from the '60's. I mean, Lord knows Carey Grant made a lot money, but it's nothing like the money that--that generation of Hollywood people--it's nothing like the money that's available now.
Harry Shearer: Okay, the problem with that then is explain Charles Barkley or a lot of athletes who make a lot of money suddenly and, from much more deprived backgrounds even then people in Hollywood tend to come from, tend to be more Republican than Democrats.
[Talking at same time]
Peter Robinson: That's the inherent superiority of the athletic mind.
Rob Long: No, but I think that--that's also the argument…
Harry Shearer: They're less emotional.
Rob Long: …those people like Charles Barkley were the recipients, in many ways, and the witnesses of the failure of the liberal count--the liberal orthodoxy. That you will find a lot of successful African Americans saying the last thing we need is more of that, I saw that already.
Peter Robinson: Let me get back to the connection between the creative arts and liberal politics.
Title: Being Rob Reiner
Peter Robinson: There seems to be some deep connection between working with words and ideas and--as opposed to working with footballs, or working with your hands--working with words and ideas, and the liberal side of the political spectrum.
Harry Shearer: Yeah, if you follow that out it's very unflattering to conservatives, so…
Rob Long: Let me throw out one possible new theory here, which I--I--maybe isn't formulated, so just back off…
[Talking at same time]
Harry Shearer: Okay, I'm just going to stay in the light though.
Rob Long: Yeah, stay--definitely stay in the light. Isn't it possible that some--that--that--that--I think definitely in a shallow town like Hollywood, it's important to be popular, and so whatever makes you popular, you're going to do. Well you're going to naturally have an inclination to that. And so why--I mean, the--the truth is the Democratic Party, or as I prefer, the Democrat Party, offers…
Harry Shearer: He's about to take another syllable off…
[Talking at same time]
Rob Long: …offers more choices--is a larger buffet. You can be a modern Democrat, you can be a conservative Democrat, you can be a Lieberman Democrat, you can be a Tom Harkin Democrat, you can be a Jesse Jackson Democrat, you can be an Al Sharpen Democrat, or you can be a Bill Bradley Democrat. So, your--your buffet is larger…
Harry Shearer: This is the bigger tent theory?
Rob Long: …this is a much bigger tent…
Peter Robinson: More places to hide.
Rob Long: …and maybe that's just--maybe that's just the way it's reported in the national press, which is rather, you know.
Harry Shearer: But you can be a Jim Jeffords, oh no you can't.
Rob Long: Yeah you can't. But--but--but--but that--that's the way it's--so if you're Michael Eisner…
Peter Robinson: I have a button right here, and if I press it, you just disappear.
Rob Long: If you're Michael Eisner, you can be a Democrat. There's no down side. There's no down side. No one will ever say to you, oh, so you're a Nazi. But if you say, well, you know, gosh, I--I--you know, for a long time I really admired Newt Gingrich, they'll say, oh, Nazi. But I also think that it's a mistake for--for people to fo--especially conservatives to focus on Hollywood. I think Hollywood follows. The people you should really be trying to convince, are the people who write for the New York Times and the Washington Post. We seem to believe that every Republican is really out to hurt poor children.
Peter Robinson: That's all--however, that's a separate show. We can sum up like this--I think--that I can get both of you to agree to this statement: That although we can unroll--all of us having been trying to unroll theories about why Hollywood, to the extent that it has politics, tends to have liberal politics, it's very difficult to explain. We can say, that it does, and that it is a--a kind of self-reinforcing tendency, as you would find--tend to find in all kin--almost any kind of community. You--there is such a thing as Planet Hollywood, and you'll get a certain kind of treatment at a cocktail party if you're a liberal, tends to be self reinforcing, it's a little harder at least to be a Republican. That much we can say, right?
Harry Shearer: Yes and I think you also have to add to your historical analysis that the David Geffen's and--and Michael Eisner's of an earlier day were as intensely conservative as these--this current generation are liberal. So it wasn't just the actors that changed, it was the entire ethos of the town. It was a town that black listed liberals if they were too liberal, and could be, you know, for every kind of tweaky, oh Nazi that gets thrown at him teasingly for being a friend of Newt Gingrich, a serious Commi was thrown at liberals, forty, fifty years ago.
Rob Long: Well he was a Commi…
Peter Robinson: And even say sixty years ago, they--Mayer-Goldwyn, the mogul, the original mogul, Upton Sinclair ran for governor of California, as a liberal Democrat. They did a lot to stop him, for the opposition.
Harry Shearer: That's right. That's right, Jack Warner was a major conservative. So, the--the sea change has not just been among the--the people that you see on the screen, it's been behind the scene.
Rob Long: But the irony is for conservatives, they're always complaining about this sort of, ideologically, sort of, cast, I--you know whatever it is, brainwashing that they do. The ir--the irony is that the generation that grew up watching the sanitized, sort of, even, post code movies and TV of the '50's, they grew up to be--to riot in the streets in the '60's. And the generation that grew up on all that sort of liberally pious, insufferably political sitcoms of the '70's grew up to vote Reagan.
Peter Robinson: Okay so perhaps we should…
Peter Robinson: Rob just raised an important issue. The effects of Hollywood's liberalism. Let's look at that a little further.
Title: Box Office Politics
Peter Robinson: The Economist Magazine once again, quote, "filmmakers who present relentlessly partisan views of the world risk provoking a reaction. America is never going to recover from the culture war that has disfigured its politics for a generation. If prime time programs such as the West Wing routinely portray religious fundamentalists as bigots and supporters of school vouchers as members of the Ku Klux Klan," closed quote.
Harry Shearer: I don't watch the West Wing, but I think it's interesting that they focus on the one program which is ostensibly political and ignore the point I was making earlier, the sub-textual politics that suffuse the vast majority of Hollywood's output, which is exactly in the opposite direction.
Peter Robinson: Okay…
Harry Shearer: You know, for every self-consciously liberal show, you know, for every American President that comes onto the motion picture screen, ninety-nine percent of the movies that come out don't discuss it on a--on a--on a textual level, but on a sub-textual level are delivering a very different message about the world.
Peter Robinson: And so your point is, you're on The Simpson's as--as Principal Skinner, Mr. Burns, Smithers, and occasional other characters, and The Simpson's…
Harry Shearer: You're leaving out a lot of my good characters.
Peter Robinson: You give us another…
Harry Shearer: No, no, go ahead.
Peter Robinson: …and The Simpson's is a profoundly conservative show. It shows an intact, loving, nuclear family.
Harry Shearer: A religious family.
Peter Robinson: …a religious family, a family with--in which there is a traditional marriage. The children are respectful but at the same time understand their parents' foibles. They live a community--it is a profoundly conservative show.
Harry Shearer: Don't tell me, tell Bill Bennet.
Peter Robinson: And you're proud to be associated with that, you the liberal, no the independent.
Harry Shearer: The satirist. Mr. Sophisticated Satirist, Carl Reiner once called me…
Peter Robinson: Well, what about the West Wing and the partisan--it just doesn't matter, it doesn't have any effect?
Rob Long: Well yeah, of course its--you know, I think it matters a lot less than the people making it think about it. I mean, I'm sure the people making it think it's going to somehow…
Harry Shearer: Change the world.
Rob Long: …and it has absolutely no effect. It is an office drama. The idea that they are going to deal with crucial political issues of the day is sort of ludicrous. I mean it's absolutely--it's a joke. I--I--I suspect that people in Hollywood, certainly it's the blowhards who do that show, tend to believe that they're really sort of this--this important. You know, this is a--this is a dramatic town meeting for the--for Americans. But I don't think it has any affect at all. The real culprit I think, and I think it's why conservatives probably aren't as conservative as they should be, the real culprit are conservatives, who back down from these arguments, who are terrified.
Peter Robinson: Conservatives in Hollywood?
Rob Long: Conservatives all--conservatives…
Peter Robinson: Generally?
Rob Long: …generally. Conservative politician's who back down from making their argument. They complain, well the press is against us and Hollywood is against us, but, no--in fact, if you made an argument that was compelling and you believed in it, that you could actually change people's minds.
Peter Robinson: Beautiful, you've set up my last question. A last, last, because it's television, something the two of you know a lot about.
Rob Long: And the sponsor's, oh wait, it's PBS. Oh wait you do have sponsors.
Harry Shearer: Viewers like you.
[Talking at the same time]
Harry Shearer: What Rob is suggesting is that there's a culture of victimization among conservatives, which is something that conservatives love to see in--in other groups.
Peter Robinson: Keep talking and I'll press the button, I'm warning you.
Rob Long: I--I--I am suggesting that.
Peter Robinson: Hold on. This past spring Barbara Streisand sent a memorandum to Democratic leaders, I quote Ms. Streisand's memo, " not only is George W. Bush poisoning our air and water, he's poisoning our political system as well…"
Harry Shearer: There's some arsenic in this, what the hell's…
[Talking at the same time]
Peter Robinson: "…we cannot trust George W. Bush," close quote. If you could advise President Bush to take one step to calm down Barbara Streisand and persuade Hollywood that he is at a minimum a decent human being, and that they ought at least to be open-minded to his conservative ideas, what step would you advise him to take, Harry?
Harry Shearer: Barbara Streisand in the Lincoln bedroom Saturday night. Like that she switches! Like a pussycat.
Rob Long: Just alone?
Harry Shearer: Maybe with a…
[Talking at same time]
Rob Long: My advice would be don't bother. What's the--what--what's--there's no benefit there. Why even bother. It's--you--first of all, it's never going to be successful. And--and, second of all it doesn't--it isn't the answer. The answer is to make your arguments more clearly.
Harry Shearer: And third, history--and third, history teaches us that it will change on its own time anyway, and it'll go…
Peter Robinson: You think so?
Harry Shearer: Well it went from--from conservative to liberal over a couple generations. It'll swing back.
Peter Robinson: In your lifetime? In your lifetime long may it last, because I don't know what I'd do without my weekly dose of Burns and Smithers. Long may your lifetime last. In your lifetime will you see a conservative Hollywood?
Harry Shearer: It may happen.
Peter Robinson: You think it will?
Harry Shearer: I have no idea. If I--if I could predict the future--if I could predict the future, I'd be spending my time at the race track and not on show's like this.
Peter Robinson: Harry, and Rob, thank you very much.
Rob Long: Well thank you.
Harry Shearer: Thank you.
Peter Robinson: Rob Long and Harry Shearer both agree, Hollywood is indeed overwhelmingly liberal. But in Hollywood itself, politics are all but irrelevant compared to the bottom line. I'm Peter Robinson, thanks for joining us.